Best Performance Upgrades?
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2008-2013 Cadillac CTS Performance Mods Discussion, Best Performance Upgrades? in Cadillac CTS Second Generation Forum - 2008-2013; I drive an '05 Volvo S60R upgraded from 300 to about 350HP. With the American Car companies in dire straights ...
  1. #1
    consultant is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Best Performance Upgrades?

    I drive an '05 Volvo S60R upgraded from 300 to about 350HP. With the American Car companies in dire straights I'm thinking about taking advantage of the good deals and maybe trying an American Car for the first time (previously just owned Japanese: Acura, Lexus, Honda)

    I've really fallen in love with AWD. I take my car to the track a couple times a year. The performance is about on par with a Porsche Carrera on the track which I've passed many times. There may be some difference due to driver ability, but the brakes on the Volvo are amazing and the AWD helps me keep up in the corners.

    I've become a bit frustrated though looking for options for a new car. It seems every manufacturer makes their AWD version be the lower performance model. For example, on the Lexus IS, you can get AWD in the wimpy 250 but not the 350. On the Infinity G37, you can only get the larger brakes on the RWD version and you can only get a manual.

    I've enjoyed the manual transmission on my Volvo, but I've missed my Acura's automatic in congested City traffic. Now a days they have rev-matching automatics, dual-clutch manuals with automatic shifting (Audi), paddle shifters here, there.

    So I come to the CTS. I actually gravitated to it when I read a comparison of the CTS-V to the BMW M5 and surprisingly the V bet the M5 in all performance categories at the track (although not by much). Seems an American Car company finally "nailed it" as far as a sedan.

    So I'm looking at the options and once again, here we go, no FE3 suspension on the AWD and no paddle shifters. What the heck are these people thinking? Most all the supercars in the world (Lambo, Bugatti) are AWD. Why is Cadillac and everyone else "dumbing down" the options on their AWD models?!?

    So (to make a long story longer), if I'm set on AWD, then all I have is a CTS-4 with FE2 available. I seriously hope the brakes can handle the track. Assuming they can, what are my performance upgrade options (including cost per HP increase.)

    I Googled and see you can get a Corsa exhaust for $1500 but I didn't see any HP gain numbers.

    On my Volvo I have an ECU upgrade which essentially increases the boost, advances the ignition timing and alters the air/fuel mixture for about a 15% HP increase but you have to run premium (min. 91 octane) fuel.

    If an ECU upgrade is not available for the CTS-4, I'm assuming exhaust, including headers, are really the only option and my guess would be about a 10% gain to 330-340 for what about $2K total?

    I might be happy with the FE2 anyway as I rarely take the car to the track so it might be a nice compromise between comfort and performance. But after driving at a track where you need to go from 130MPH to 70MPH in about 100 feet before going into a turn, (along with other harsh braking throughout the track), it's nice to know the brakes are up to snuff.

    I may have to spend the big bucks and go for a 2010 Audi S4, but although I like the European cars, I think they are overpriced for what you get. Maybe if I could learn to like the looks of the new Acura TL and cross my finders they come out with a Type-S version down the road, that might be the answer. But I'd really like to give an American Car a chance.

    I'm eyeballing the new Ford Taurus SHO, 360HP, AWD and all the goodies. But it's a Ford, TAURUS! (They should have changed the name to something like the T500) My friends will think I've lost my mind pulling up in a Taurus (until I pull up in one with the 20" wheel option - haha) Resale value on that isn't going to be anywhere near an Acura or BMW or Cadillac for that matter.

    Sorry for the long winded, roundabout question but I sort of wanted to introduce myself and my background/requirements.

    So I'm curious for say $2K-$3K what can you do for performance upgrades on a CTS-4. The V is just a little out of my price range I think and no AWD. In the Seattle area the roads are wet alot in the winter and we get probably a dozen snow days. I know a limited slip RWD will get the job done 90% of the time, but the AWD really is fun on the wet, snow, dirt, and the track.

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  3. #2
    consultant is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Best Performance Upgrades?

    Bingo... d3cadillac has all the stuff.

    Air Intake - 10-15HP $425 = ~$30/HP
    D3 ECU Box - 30-40HP $650 = $18/HP
    Slotted Rotors = $400
    Braided Brake Lines = ?

    That will probably get me to where I would want to be on a CTS-4 FE2. ~ 350HP, a bit better brake performance (for a track day a couple times a year), and probably no or very negligible hit to milega for around $1500? That would be perfect for me.

    Does anyone know if the FE3 suspension has thicker sway bars?

    Forget the exhaust. Looking at $3K for 30-40 HP? Although it would allow the ECU Box to give a higher HP increase. Let's assume exhaust + headers is 50HP when used with ECU Box. That's still $60/HP. Poor value.

  4. #3
    The Black Dahlia's Avatar
    The Black Dahlia is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Best Performance Upgrades?

    D3 Will be your best bet for top performance gains. Very knowledgable and friendly. Highly Recommended.

    Enjoy your CTS-4 when you get it!! Post some pics!

  5. #4
    928S is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Best Performance Upgrades?

    Quote Originally Posted by consultant View Post
    Does anyone know if the FE3 suspension has thicker sway bars?
    CTSsuspensionpackages.pdf

  6. #5
    yatesd's Avatar
    yatesd is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Best Performance Upgrades?

    The CTS AWD with performance package actually gets the J55 performance brakes from the FE3 suspension and are very good (same stopping distance as an Audi A4 even with the CTS being a larger vehicle). The brakes are 13.6 vented front and 13.4 vented in the rear with high performance pads. The limited slip will also be nice.

    Performance Package, 18" (45.7 cm) All-Season Tire, includes (T4F) HID headlamps, (T3U) fog lamps, (P75) 18" x 8" (45.7 c x 20.3 cm) aluminum wheels with premium multi-coat painted finish, (QKE) P235/50R18 V-rated all-season blackwall tires, (G80) limited slip differential (MX7) 6-speed automatic transmission only, (J55) performance brakes [AWD only]

    I think the exciting thing for all CTS owners, in addition to the offerings from D3, is the opportunity to access the CTS-V parts bin for wheels, tires, and suspension parts.

    I know GM turbocharges the 2.8L version of our engine in the Saab. Wonder if it is a direct fit to the 3.6L? Just another thought...

  7. #6
    consultant is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Best Performance Upgrades?

    "The CTS AWD with performance package actually gets the J55 performance brakes from the FE3 suspension and are very good"

    That PDF conflicts with this but I have a feeling you're right about AWD getting J55. Maybe that was a change from 2008 to 2009? I'll have to go lookup how much heavier the AWD version is out of curiosity.

    So essentially the only major difference that I see is no paddle shifters and all-season instead of summer tires which works great actually as my Volvo came with summer tires and I wanted all-seasons, but then decided to keep the summer tires for, the summer (and the track). I'd probably do the same thing with the Cadillac.

    Don't see a lot of posts about a lot of problems with this car, except break squeak. That's good. First year on the S60R hand all sorts of TSB fixes, glad I got an '05. Always risking buying the first model year.

  8. #7
    928S is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Best Performance Upgrades?

    J55 Performance Brakes:
    2008 - FE3 (RWD), FE2 AWD
    2009 - FE3 (RWD) only.

    2008-09 FE3 (RWD) includes upgraded Bilstein front and load-leveling Sachs Nivomat rear shocks.

  9. #8
    consultant is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Best Performance Upgrades?

    Quote Originally Posted by 928S View Post
    J55 Performance Brakes:
    2008 - FE3 (RWD), FE2 AWD
    2009 - FE3 (RWD) only.

    2008-09 FE3 (RWD) includes upgraded Bilstein front and load-leveling Sachs Nivomat rear shocks.
    So YatesD's info is wrong?

    By the way, the Cadillac website is a piece of crap. When you build the car it gives very little information about the specifics of the option packages. I see no where about specifying the FE2 option, and when you go to the general information on the car, there is very very limited information.

    Anyone no a place where I can build a car and see detailed option info and see dealer cost?

    And I have to get cheezy wood trim if I want a sunroof? On automotive.com it shows the sunroof available as a $900 option (C3U). Is the Cadillac website THAT lame?? I realize they are packaging everything probably to reduce manufacturing costs, but the inflexibility is going to lose some potential buyers, including myself. No wonder GM went bankrupt.

  10. #9
    consultant is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: Best Performance Upgrades?

    Use automotive.com to see option specifics and carprices.com to build it. Came out to $46,940 wholsale, $50,450 msrp. Cadillac's are pricey! Geez, if I had issues with this car for that price, I'd go ballistic!

    One thing I wasn't sure about was the Performance Luxury package included a stereo upgrade but the 10-speaker stereo was still an option so I figured I needed to select that to get the best stereo?

    Around $50K and it has the wimpier brakes and shocks? Hmmmmm.

    Wholesale MSRP
    Package Option
    - 1SB Equipment Group $0 $0
    - CTS Performance Collection $3,260 $3,705
    - Performance Luxury Package $2,433 $2,765
    Audio Option
    - AM/FM stereo with CD/DVD player, MP3 playback and Bose 5.1 Cabin Surround Sound 10-speaker system $880 $1,000
    Other Option
    - Sunroof, power UltraView double-sized, tilt-sliding - Requires (PDP) CTS Luxury Collection or (PDR) CTS Performance Collection $792 $900
    Exterior Paint Option
    - Black Ice Premium Paint $436 $495

  11. #10
    928S is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Best Performance Upgrades?

    consultant,

    You can use the official GM source "Online Order / Reference Guide" to learn about RPO codes, available options, packages, and collections. Then use that info to build your own CTS. And finally go to other websites that you've mentioned for pricing.

    2008: http://eogld.ecomm.gm.com/NASApp/dom...&page=&butID=1

    2009: http://eogld.ecomm.gm.com/NASApp/dom...ID=6547&type=0

    2010: http://eogld.ecomm.gm.com/NASApp/dom...&page=&butID=1

  12. #11
    C6Vette's Avatar
    C6Vette is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Best Performance Upgrades?

    I don't know how much you know about the Auto tranny in the CTS, but it's amazing in sport mode. I have the FE3 suspension with the paddle shifters. I have to be honest, the transmission is so smart that the paddle shifters are a waste of your time. You'll be quicker just putting it in sport mode.

  13. #12
    marktanner is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Best Performance Upgrades?

    I know that you have your heart set on AWD, but try an FE3 RWD before you decide. The Michelin PS2s are very good in the rain, and I never had any problems at all. Those tires are not great in snow, but keeping the revs low with a gentle foot allowed me to drive fine in the snow. The car will definitely handle better than the FE2. AWD is not necessary for improved handling in the CTS because of the rear wheel drive, and may even dull the steering a bit, as well as adding weight. The FWD cars you mentioned all benefit from AWD, including the Volvo, because it is extremely difficult to channel a lot of power through the front wheels, especially while cornering, and it is also beneficial to have power to the rear wheels to help point the car during turn in. RWD cars don't suffer from this, except for some extremely powerful cars that need to channel some of the excess power to the front to increase traction under full power. The CTS uses AWD to benefit traction under low friction situations, and was really designed for areas with severe winters. BMW and Mercedes offer AWD for the same reasons. It is not used for performance enhancement, and indeed all of their performance models are RWD only. If you intend to track the car, I think you will appreciate the FE3, unless you gut the suspension anyway.

    Do not drive a CTS-V under any circumstances, unless you are prepared to be driven crazy until you get one. It handles superbly, with much higher limits than the FE3, and surprisingly is even more surefooted in the rain. Very pure steering, too. Will make a great occasional track toy. And it's only about $10K more than what you're looking at with the AWD. Just a thought.

  14. #13
    Northern SRX's Avatar
    Northern SRX is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Best Performance Upgrades?

    We have snow on the ground for 4 months of the year up here and the AWD FE2 is great. It's no barnstormer but it's quicker than most cars out there.

    And, yes, I wouldn't mind a little extra oomph but I probably wouldn't be happy until the Camaro SS 'vert comes out - up here a hi-po RWD car is a 3 season ride, so its top might as well come down. If that's where I go, I guess I'll keep the CTS as my winter beater...

  15. #14
    70eldo's Avatar
    70eldo is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Best Performance Upgrades?

    You can swap your FE2s for FE3s as well. Or even FE4s. It'll all fit.
    Forced induction:
    http://www.cadillacforums.com/forums...tion-3-6l.html

  16. #15
    yatesd's Avatar
    yatesd is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: Best Performance Upgrades?

    Quote Originally Posted by 928S View Post
    J55 Performance Brakes:
    2008 - FE3 (RWD), FE2 AWD
    2009 - FE3 (RWD) only.

    2008-09 FE3 (RWD) includes upgraded Bilstein front and load-leveling Sachs Nivomat rear shocks.
    This is true. However, the info about the performance package was taken from GM's media website about the 2010 models. So either GM changed their minds and are now including the J55 brakes on the 2010 AWD vehicles (w/performance package), or they made a mistake.

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